The rock n’ roll world lost a true icon on Thursday with the passing of founding Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dickey Betts. The guitarist played with the Allmans for over 30 years, helping craft the band’s signature style that became a defining characteristic of Southern rock, and stepping up as a leader of the group following Duane Allman‘s tragic death in 1971. In the wake of Dickey Betts’ passing, tributes have poured in from musicians who knew him best.

The Allman Brothers Band—which ended in 2014—shared a statement on its former guitarist. The release pointed to Dickey’s canon of timeless Allman songs like “Blue Sky”, instrumentals “Jessica” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”, and the group’s biggest hit, “Ramblin’ Man”.

“His extraordinary guitar playing alongside guitarist Duane Allman created a unique dual guitar signature sound that became the signature sound of the genre known as Southern Rock,” the statement read. “He was passionate in life, be it music, songwriting, fishing, hunting, boating, golf, karate or boxing. Dickey was all in on and excelled at anything that caught his attention.”

Betts joins other dearly departed members of the original Allman Brothers Band lineup Duane, his brother Gregg Allman, bassist Berry Oakley who died in 1972, and Butch Trucks who died by suicide in 2017. Drummer Jaimoe remains the sole surviving member of the original 1969 roster.

Throughout the group’s storied history, the Allman Brothers Band experienced many lineup changes. During the band’s second reformation in the late 1980s, the Allmans brought aboard guitarist Warren Haynes who would serve as a pillar of the band’s latter era and who continues to this day to act as a beacon of the group’s everlasting legacy. The guitarist first got his start playing with the Dickey Betts Band while the Allmans were broken up for the second time, but after a couple years Warren got called up to play in his favorite band.


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Another figure who came to prominence in the band’s latter era was Butch Trucks’ nephew Derek Trucks. The slide guitarist joined the Allmans in 1999, the year before Dickey and the Allman Brothers went through an acrimonious and permanent split. Still, Trucks showed reverence for his former bandmate on Thursday, posting on the shared Tedeschi Trucks Band social media, “One of the best to ever do it. Rest easy Dickey.”


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Another member of the Allman Brothers family who came of age looking up to Dickey was Berry Duane Oakley, son of late bassist Berry Oakley. In his post, the second-generation bassist credited Betts with taking him under his wing and teaching him the ABB legacy. Berry Duane Oakley went as far as to say “If not for [Dickey], I don’t think I would be a touring musician.”


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Of course, long before the lineup changes or the crushing tragedies that befell the Allman Brothers Band, the budding group made friends with another band that was concocting a similar stylistic blend out on the West Coast. The Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers Band performed together on numerous occasions throughout the early-to-mid 1970s, most notably alongside The Band at Summer Jam at Watkins Glen in 1973, which for decades held the record as the largest concert in history with an estimated attendance of 600,000. Beyond the stage, the band members were friends and mutual sources of inspiration, as Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann explained in a post of his own.


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Rest in peace, Dickey Betts. The road goes on forever.